Onboard the Azamara Quest, we set sail for the Baltic Sea where we had excursions in some of the most unique places in Europe. From the moment I board any Azamara ship, I always seem to immediately feel right at home because they take care of everything and make travel a breeze. Of course, this mode of travel isn’t for everyone but it IS nice to just sit back, relax and explore sometimes. I love sailing to destinations that are otherwise hard to get to (i.e. Russia). Cruising to Russia and exploring it via guided tour helps your bypass the Visa process which saves a lot of headaches and money.
During our journey through the Baltic, we ate Swedish meatballs in Stockholm, experienced a Scandanaivian summer where the sun barely ever set, walked through a fairyland the capital of Estonia, Tallin and felt like royalty strolling through the palaces of St. Petersburg. We unexpectedly fell in love with Helsinki, brushed up on history in Berlin and ended our journey in the charming city of Copenhagen. It’s safe to say that none of the destinations on this itinerary were a disappointment.
We’ve rounded up some of our top tips and photo-op recommendations for the Baltic. Excursions similar to these can be booked through Azamara’s Land Discoveries, offering everything from explorations on your own to local experiences and in depth tours.
As the capital and largest city in Sweden, Stockholm is stylish, modern and still maintains its old charm all the while being situated on approximately 20 islands!
Gamla Stan Old Town
Roam the cobblestone streets of this medieval quarter located in the heart of the city.
Photo op: Stortorget, the Great Square.
Visit this iconic museum to see the “Vasa”, the only remaining intact 17th century ship, stands in the large ship hall.
Royal Palace & The Old Town
Also located in Old Town, the Royal Palace is one of the largest palaces in Europe.
Photo op: the palace’s facade.
See Stockholm by Waterway
Stockholm has a gorgeous riverfront, board a boat for a canal journey and eventually into open waters to witness Stockholm’s archipelago.
If you happen to be around Stockholm’s waterfront, this Instagrammable and adorable cafe is the perfect rest stop to refuel.
Tallin is the capital of Estonia and is one of the oldest cities on the Baltic Sea. It also happens to be one of the most preserved medieval towns in Northern Europe, having been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage List since 1997.
Wander through the cobblestone streets of Tallin to experience its impressive views and landmarks.
Alexander Nevski Cathedral
One piece of Old Town architecture that seems out of place here with its Russian aesthetics but gorgeous nonetheless.
Old Town Area
Twisting cobblestone lanes and iron streets lamps, Gothic architecture and Medieval markets, cappuccino, wifi. The city’s Old Town has everything.
Old town is divided by two areas, lower town and Toompea Hill.
Photo op: Climb up to Toompea Hill on the Pikk jag and climb down the hill on Luhike jag for two gorgeous viewpoints.
Located on Toompea Hill, in the upper part of the old town and dates from the first half of the 13th century. The castle has undergone reconstruction and is now fronted by the pink colored parliament house in 1773.
Two Days in St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg is Russia’s second largest and Europe’s fourth largest city after Moscow, London and Paris. The city is different from its sister city, Moscow in that much of it has been influenced by the West. Case in point, Peter the Great was inspired by the Palace of Versailles upon a visit to France and thus built the Peterhof Palace to rival it.
Home to the Amber room, which was once considered the 8th Wonder of the World. Located in the tranquil town of Pushkin, about an hour outside of St. Petersburg’s city center.
The Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood
It doesn’t get more iconic than this church. Its onion shaped domes and strong mysterious presence hovers over the canal and is striking from almost every perspective.
Photo tip: walk further away from the church down the canal to get the best, symmetrical shot.
Russia’s most famous street and the focal point of the city which also leads to one of the most iconic landmarks in St. Petersburg, The Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood
Here, you’ll find restaurants, cafes, fashionable locals and it’s home to one of the most beautiful bookstores and grocery stores in the world.
The Hermitage Museum
Set on the grounds of the Winter Palace with nearly 3 million work on exhibit, the Hermitage is surely one of the grandest museums in the world. You’ll find works by Rembrandt, Picasso, Matisse, da Vinci and more.
Peter and Paul Fortress
Built in 1703 to protect the area from Swedish invasion, the first site chosen by Peter the Great to build his new city. The church is remarkably beautiful.
Home of the Grand Palace of Peter the Great, the palace was built to rival the Palace of Versailles in France. Don’t miss the the 300 acre lower gardens where you’ll 150 cascading fountains in all their glory.
Although Helsinki is the largest city and capital of Finland, its charm and lack of high rise buildings maintains its small town feel. I immediately fell in love with this city and can’t wait to visit again. I especially loved sailing through the Helsinki Archipelago. It was surely an unforgettable sail off.
The highlight of the city, the cathedral stands tall and bright located in Senate Square: Senaatintori.
Photo tip: When facing the front of the cathedral, it’s nearly impossible to get a photo without people in it. One way you CAN get that shot is by walking over the the side of the cathedral and shooting from there.
Market Square: Kauppatori
Lively with color, art, food and more, the market is open in the summer months right next to the port.
Ice Bar & Igloo Hotel
A winter wonderland made entirely of ice and snow, get cozy in warm clothing and sip vodka in a glass made of ice!
Rock church, carved out of solid rock, this church spans 70 feet.
Esplanade street & park
Shops, restaurants and gorgeous parks.
The gorgeous botanical garden is located on University of Helsinki campus and the The Kaisaniemi Garden is open to the public. The greenhouse and gorgeous grounds make it the perfect place for the nature lover.
Torni Atelje Bar
Take the elevator up to the Torni Atelje Bar located in the Hotel Torni to take in 360° views of Helsinki.
Photo tip: some of the best views are from the women’s bathroom. (sorry guys!)
Finnair sky wheel
Théhuone Tea Shop
Lovely tea shop and friendly minimal atmosphere. Great for tea connoisseurs and good conversation.
Fun, Instagrammable atmosphere and great for coffee or casual lunch, located just off of Esplanade street.
Berlin is a fascinating blend of old and modern with loads of history. It is home to young artists, poets, musicians and more. The Azamara Quest docked in Warnemunde and drove 3 hours through the German countryside to get to the city. We were provided with roadtrip snacks along the way and a survival kit with emergency numbers and pick up times!
Known as the Berliner Dom, the grounds of this magnificent site is the perfect place to rest and take it all in.
Various pieces of it are spread throughout the city but I would recommend skipping Charlie’s Checkpoint as it is a total tourist trap and only has 1 small piece of the wall.
The main square in the city, you’ll find German & French Cathedrals and the city’s concert house.
This vibrant city is full of charm and royalty. We had very limited time here but it’s definitely a city I would love to go back to.
Built in the 1600s, the castle makes for a stunning backdrop get lost in its sprawling gardens
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I was invited as guest by Azamara Club Cruises. As always, all opinions are my own.